Werewolf Magic, a new Pagan tradition

TWH – At the 2022 Conference on Pagan Studies, Denny Sargent presented a talk on “Animistic-Pagan Werewolf Cults in the Ancient World. Last January, The Wild Hunt discussed that presentation. The Wild Hunt recently spoke with Sargent via e-mail, a conversation focused on the spiritual practice of Werewolf Magic.

Most people in the developed world have learned about werewolves from two sources. Classic 1930s black-and-white horror movies provided base knowledge. Television shows like “Teen Wolf” and “Vampire Diaries” updated that base with irony, the modern world, and teen-angst.

These Hollywood urban legends (HUL) bear about the same resemblance to Werewolf Magic, as Hollywood urban Witch legends do to witchcraft. For clarity, the words “HUL Werewolves” will refer to Hollywood-Urban legend werewolves. The words, “Werewolf Magic” will refer to Sargent’s spiritual practice.

Sargent rejected “any real connection between HUL werewolves” and Werewolf Magicians.

Classic pop-culture depiction of a werewolf – Image credit: Lameiro – Public Domain

In contrast to HUL Werewolves, Sargent highly recommended the recent movie ‘The Northman.’ He said, “The shamanic berserker shape-shifting initiation scene (complete with mushrooms) is the best depiction of an ancient werewolf cult I could imagine.” Some specialize in a specific form.

Werewolf Magic, open to all genders and races

In the past, HUL Werewolves have been mostly male. Sargent reported that more recent HUL werewolf movies have featured female werewolves. Examples include the “Ginger Snaps” franchise (2000, and 2004) and “My Mom’s a Werewolf” (1989).

In Sargent’s workshops on Werewolf Magic, roughly half identify as male and half as female. Trans and gay people have attended his workshops and Sargent stressed that the path is open to all genders.

In his book, Werewolf Pack Magick, Sargent has written, “If you are a racist, using the pretense of Magickal or group work to control others, are a homophobe or bigoted in any way you are not practicing Werewolf Magick nor are you honoring wolves who don’t attack other wolves due to the color of their fur or their preferred gender.”

Before publication, Sargent had women review and vet his books Werewolf Magic and Werewolf Pack. Both were Craft Elders. One woman was straight. The other was gay. They made changes that Sargent adopted. He also gave a prepublication review copy to a trans friend and two gay men in the Craft. He said that process “made both books better and helped me be open to all people.”

Werewolf Magic transformation

At each full moon, HUL Werewolves undergo an involuntary, full physical transformation. Werewolf Magic also involves a transformation, but not on the physical plane. Its transformation is voluntary.

Sargent referenced the book, Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shape-Shifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages (Lecouteux 2003). That book contains a discussion of the “Double.” Sargent has found that concept useful in explaining Magical Werewolf transformations.

Sargent argued that the ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed an individual would have more than one soul. Sargent calls one of these souls, the Double.

Sargent said that witches often call the Double “the ‘astral body.’” He described it as the “energetic and malleable aspect of ourselves.”

Werewolf Magic involves working on the astral or Double in a deep, energized trance state. Animistic spirits or gods may aid in this process. First, the Werewolf Magician has to form the Double (astral skin). Then, they have to place the Wolf spirit into it to form the Wolfskin. Then, they can wear the Wolfskin.

Sargent said this work shuts down “the higher ‘monkey mind’ upper cortex.” He argues that shutdown allows “the primal lower brain time to take over.” It unleashes the Animalself. That term refers to that animal “part of you that has been bullied and suppressed into a metaphorical cage.” In this process, the Werewolf Magician molds the astral Double and activates the solar plexus energy center.

Werewolf Magical transformation involves the body, mind, and soul. The transformation involves “deep psychological work, mental, emotional, and Magickal trance state induction, [and] physical shifts with the will.” Wolf Magicians howl, rock, rumble, and physically sway. Some magicians drum the ritual beat.

Sargent said that “it takes over an hour to get into that state.” It requires extensive practice “to shut down the upper cortex, and let the animal mind take over.” A “complex coordinated effort,” Werewolf Magic involves “manipulating, body, mind, astral, physical energy.”

Werewolf Magic differs from hard polytheism. It works more with animism and animal spirits than it does with deities. A priestess of Hecate belongs to the same pack as Sargent. For her, Werewolf Magic is part of her devotional practice to Hecate.

How does the Wolfpack see each other in trance?

One Werewolf Magic “full moon trance state/shape-shifting/howling loping fun evening” lasted for more than four hours. Afterward, Sargent asked the rest of the Pack how they saw him in werewolf form. Never before, had the group discussed this. The other members of the Wolf Pack saw Sargent as a wolf with black fur and streaks of gray. Sargent saw himself in exactly that way.

Wolves – Image credit: A Quinn from Pixabay

The Wolfpack continued to compare their self-image with how others saw them. Others in the Wolf Pack saw a white, Arctic wolf. That Magician also saw his wolfskin double as a white, Arctic wolf. Another Magician saw his “wolfskin double” as a gray wolf with brown undertones. The other pack members saw him that way. Members of the pack saw each Werewolf Magician as that Magician saw themselves. Sargent argued that this occurred too often to be mere chance.

Sargent has found evidence of werewolf cults in the ancient world. At the shrine of Zeus Lycaeus in Greece, priests provided offerings to Zeus Lycaeus (Wolfish Zeus.) The Wild Hunt has previously discussed the Altar of Zeus at Lykaion, the center of that cult. He found evidence of a werewolf cult in the Lupercalia of ancient Rome. Sargent has found evidence of werewolf cults among the ancient Celts and Germans.

Other Communities and Other Kin

There are other communities with similar practices and Sargent reported that people from them have participated in Werewolf Magic workshops.  Some individuals in the leather culture wear the physical skins of animals as a sign of community membership. Furries have an affinity for certain animals. Furries are an inclusive community where members create for themselves an anthropomorphized animal character, called a fursona, and participate in that character in online and in-person communities. In their fursona, individuals might wear costumes or paraphernalia to represent their anthropomorphic animal in the community and during events.

These practices sound like aspects of Werewolf Magic. Sargent has thought about these modern, secular forms of animal embodiments or cosplay. He knows Furries and Leather People.

Sargent included Bears among these groups. Bear is a term used by gay men to describe a husky man with usually obvious body hair. Many bears have formed a culture that highlights rugged but non-toxic masculinity while promoting acceptance and inclusiveness of all body types. However Bears identify with the bear as animals, they present themselves in human, not animal, form.

The International Bear Brotherhood Flag. It is the pride flag of the bear community. The flag was created by Craig Byrnes in 1995.


Sargent considered Bears, Furries, and Leather People to be “Other Kin.”

Sargent thinks the “Other Kin are being called to unleash their repressed and ignored Animalself.” He believes they “may actually be moving into the liminal space where animal spirits interface with people.” Furries show an affinity with those animal spirits. For Sargent, talk of the Other Kin is “a fascinating conversation.” That conversation is “still unfolding as I move into more and more circles with this atavistic revival of animistic shape-shifting.” His next book will discuss Other Kin and Werewolf Magic.

Werewolf Magic as a way back to nature

Sargent believes that he has “rediscovered a very important, very primal gnosis that really helps people … [to] rip through the wall that separates them from Nature. This gnosis “leads to a more natural, joyful life. … We must reconnect with Gaia viscerally and deeply, as the animals we ARE and rediscover a way of life that includes Nature, and wildness as our daily reality to save our world.”


Denny Sargent – Courtesy

More information about Denny Sargent is available on his website. His books include Werewolf Pack Magick: A Shapeshifter’s Book of Shadows (2022), and Werewolf Magick: Authentic Practical Lycanthropy (2020).

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